Ease Winter Blues with Massage Therapy
Have the winter blues followed you into February?
One of the many effects massage has on our bodies is stimulating the release of some key neurohormones. What are neurohormones you ask? They are simply hormones that are produced by our nervous system and secreted into our body for circulation. Now let’s take a quick look at the hormones serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.
Serotonin is produced in nerve cells and is mainly found in the digestive system but is found all throughout the body in smaller amounts. Serotonin helps regulate our emotions easing irritability, cravings, depression and all those blue feelings that can come with this time of year.
Dopamine is released in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Dopamine plays an acting roll in stimulating feelings of joy, inspiration, enthusiasm and for heightening intuition. It helps control our fine motor skills for things like painting, playing an instrument and other soul-feeding activities.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the hypothalamus then transported to the posterior pituitary gland in our brain for secretion. It has been coined “The love hormone” for being most active in times of childbirth but is also active in social bonding. Oxytocin has the effect of making us feel tranquil and loving and will reduce the effects of cortisol our stress hormone.
Endorphins are actually a group of hormones that are secreted in the brain and nervous system. Most commonly they are known for producing the ‘runners high’ after intense exercise. Endorphins act on our opiate receptors creating a natural painkilling effect and simultaneously creating a sense of well being and euphoria.
Why Massage Therapy?
During a 60 minute massage, deep within you, your body is responding to therapeutic touch by making substances that soothe feelings of anxiety, depression and pain and by increasing other substances to make us feel connected, loved and well. These effects have been proven to last for up to 48 hours after the massage has finished. In my opinion, as an RMT, the more frequently you receive a massage (by a trained professional or spouse) the faster your body creates these responses and the longer they last within our systems. Receiving a massage is a great stand alone therapy or can be used as an adjunctive treatment alongside other therapies such as naturopathic medicine, counselling and talk therapy.
Courtesy of Nissa Cochran, RMT